Women in motorsports are breaking stereotypes

Updated: Oct 12, 2019

When talking about women in motorsports, the first image to many might still be women in bikinis posing next to fast cars or famous riders. Women as active drivers and riders may be invisible to many, however, if you have ever met one, your images will be changed forever. Within a blink of an eye, women in motorsports must adapt to any situation, at anytime, anywhere. Having that ability makes them amazing athletes and role models right there.

On 17-18 August, the first ever Women in Motorsports Conference was organised in Vierumäki, Finland jointly by the women’s commissions of FIA (International Automobile Federation) and FIM (International Motorcycling Federation). The stage was packed with experience from the world’s best female drivers and riders. In addition, the floor was given to engineers, advocates and leaders from the motorsport sector and other sporting fields as well. The participants represented 26 different countries, including South Africa, Australia and Colombia.

In many aspects, motorsports still have a long way to go to reach equality. However, the pioneers in motorsports are most willing to learn from women in the sport sector at large.

The Chair of the ENGSO Equality Within Sport Committee (EWS), Niina Toroi was one of the panelists and she talked about the current situation of women in sports, its specifics and how this field has evolved over time. Ms Toroi highlighted the role of leaders:

“If there is a will, there is a way. The willingness to have more females in leadership, invest in gender-neutral budgeting or the portrayal of athletes are topics that the leaders can influence easily. Leaders can lead with their actions, decisions and examples.”

Moreover, she passed on a message from EWS: “Men are needed to speak up and act upon and on behalf of women. Their voice can be more powerful in the current atmosphere where women represent 5% of sport leaders in Europe, according to the Council of Europe. At the current pace, it will take more than 200 years for women to catch up with men to reach equality. That’s why we need quotas. We don’t have time to wait.”

Ms Nita Korhonen, Chair of the FIM Women’s Commission summarised the two-day event: “The conference really blew a bank. Thanks to the networks we were able to build here; we create something that will benefit women in motorsports for long.”

The amount of talent that is packaged into these women deserves to be shared with the global audience. The accomplishments that test drivers, Dakar race finishers or engineers in the male-dominated motorsports culture deserve to be heard. Women deserve to have an opportunity to compete at high-level events and competitions.

To drive fast you need courage. To have courage you need confidence. To have confidence, opportunities are countless for you. The future surely looks good for women in motorsports.

Photos by Taneli Niinimaki